- Ph.D. in Zoology, University of Otago, New Zealand, 2011
- M.S. in Biology, Minnesota State University, Mankato, 2007
- B.S. in Biology, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, 2002
Office: SCI 213G
- General Biology (BIOL 120)
- Invertebrate Zoology (BIOL 349)
- Parasitology (BIOL 445)
I have a well-established interest in the trematode-host interaction and ask research questions on evolutionary ecology. My first research focus involves the ability of parasites to impact community structure of an ecosystem by changing the outcome of competitive or exploitative interactions between host species and other species within communities. By affecting ecological interactions, parasites have a key role in the community structure of ecosystems. The effects of a parasite on an ecosystem can be complicated if a parasite is introduced to a community by an invasive host species, resulting in other potential host species in that community interacting with a new parasite. Previous work on a novel parasite-host interaction has also lead to an interest in local adaptation in hosts. Host species commonly exhibit local adaptation of life history traits in locations with long-term, high infection rates, possibly resulting in resistance, earlier age of first reproduction or switching mode of reproduction.
My second major research area encompasses the mechanisms that drive the evolution of parasite life history traits, including host specificity, development, fecundity, transmission pathways and host manipulation. Trematodes typically have a complex life cycle with multiple hosts and life stages. Each transmission event is a challenge because hosts are patchily distributed in both time and space. Trematodes have responded to these selective pressures resulting in various adaptations, including high fecundity, asexual reproduction, efficient host-finding mechanisms and long-lived larval stages. Many trematode species even have the ability to alter host behavior or morphology to increase the probability of being transmitted to the next host, usually exploiting predator-prey relationships in host species. Other trematode species are capable of eliminating a host and shortening their life cycle.
I use field studies and experiments to investigate parasite communities, local adaptation, host specificity, life cycles and ecological factors related to transmission. Currently, I am particularly interested in exploring the evolutionary ecology of the parasite-host systems found in the local aquatic systems around Stephenville and involving undergraduate and graduate students in both field and laboratory research. Fieldwork typically consists of collecting host organisms and transporting them to the lab. Laboratory research includes a large amount time working at a dissecting scope, dissecting hosts and collecting, measuring, preserving and identifying species of parasites.
- Herrmann, K.K., I. Blasco-Costa, D.B. Keeney and R. Poulin. Genetic structure in a progenetic trematode: signs of a cryptic species. In prep. Molecular Ecology.
- Poulin, R., G.P. Closs, A.W.T. Lill, A.S. Hicks, K.K. Herrmann, D. Kelly. Migration as an escape from parasitism in New Zealand galaxiid fishes. 2012. Oecologia 169:995-963.
- Herrmann, K.K. and R. Poulin. The missing host hypothesis: do chemical cues from predators induce life cycle truncation of trematodes within their fish host? 2012. Journal of Fish Biology 80: 816-830.
- Herrmann, K.K. and R. Poulin. Geographic variation in life cycle strategies of a progenetic trematode. 2012. Journal of Parasitology 98: 103-110.
- Herrmann, K.K. and R.E. Sorensen. Differences in susceptibility to mortality-related trematodes in two waterbirds. 2011. Journal of Parasitology 97: 555-558.
- Herrmann, K.K. and R. Poulin. Encystment site affects the reproductive strategy of a progenetic trematode in its fish intermediate host: is host spawning an exit for parasite eggs? 2011. Parasitology 138: 1183-1192.
- Herrmann, K.K. and R. Poulin. Life cycle truncation in a progenetic trematode: does high temperature indicate shorter host longevity? 2011. International Journal for Parasitology 41: 679-704.
- Luque, J.L., F.M. Vieira, K.K. Herrmann, T.M. King, R. Poulin and C. Lagrue. New evidence on a cold case: trophic transmission, distribution and host-specificity in Hedruris spinigera (Nematoda: Hedruridae). 2010. Folia Parasitologica 57: 223-231.
- Herrmann, K.K. and R.E. Sorensen. Seasonal dynamics of two mortality-related trematodes using an introduced snail. 2009. Journal of Parasitology 95: 823-828.